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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 19 April 2006
It's an exceptional book, so why have I given it only 4 stars?

Certainly not the books fault, but this book does tend to get recommended to students as the definitive book for software interface design.

The book is quite dated, being just a renamed reprint of 1989 book "The Psychology of Everyday Things", identical content, except with a new foreword.

The insight into the flawed design of everyday objects is amazing, but could have been so much better if instead of just updating the foreword new chapters were added dealing with modern issues (computers, satellite tv, mobile phones, etc).

Reading this book will still make high tech designers better, but don't expect it to be as relevant to you as it was to your lecturer who read it 17 years ago.
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on 3 May 1999
You read this book and then you think aha! - thats why I have trouble with my door/kettle/car. Norman manages to inform the reader with interesting examples, backed up by years of research.
One of the easiest ways to sell good design and usability is by showing people what happens if you don't invest enough time and resources. This book provides ample ammunition to any designers who are confronted with clients who require educating, as well as a design solution.
Why not 5 stars? - well, the book could be longer.
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on 19 January 2001
This was recommended reading for my undergraduate Psychology degree. It changed my life. In light of the book I changed lanes and decided to follow a career in user experience. I am now at the end of my doctorate in Human Computer Interaction and loving it.
Interestingly, most of my undergraduate colleagues decided on a different career path,but still rate this book as one of their favourites. You will never look at the world in the same way after you have read this book. It is truly inspiring...
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on 11 April 2002
This book has very little if anything to do with software design, or even door handle to tap design. These examples are given purely to demonstrate what the book is really about, which the Design of the human brain. Although he talks a lot about the physical objects around us, he continually refers back to why the objects are the way they are and how the human brain makes decisions about how it will interact will them. He is trying to explain that the design of objects does not exist in isolation. An object is not in itself functional. It becomes functional when it begins to interact with its surroundings, and that interaction is frequently with humans. As well as interacting physically with objects, human must interact psychologically with them, although this psychological is frequently (and often should be) sub conscious. Understanding the nature of these subconscious psychological interaction with our surrounding's is what this book is about, and it's very interesting, often amusing, and despite the dodgy 1970's photos, it will be timeless.
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on 15 January 1999
An enlightening and often entertaining critique on the inadaquacies of designed objects and systems based on the seminal "The Psychology of Everyday Things" (1988). Norman is scathing of design which is not user centred unleasing exceptional scorn on the designers of door handles and light switches. Even these simple systems are poorly designed, he argues, so how are users expected to operate infinitely more complex systems?
Norman exposes some simple guidelines for ensuring usable design which make one wonder why they appear to be so frequently ignored in comtemporary design.
This book is not only a must for design students, it is essential for even senior designers and managers involved with design.
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on 22 December 2003
This book was a required textbook for design module in my BSc course. It's a very interesting read, and you'll enjoy Mr Norman's examples and explanations of why some things work well and others don't. He explains many design principles such as 'mapping' and 'feedback', and their importance is made made apparent though his many examples and case studies. In general the content of the book is very relevant.
The tone of the book, unfortunately, is very negative. Admittedly, it is easier to find problems than impart praise. It is nevertheless better to teach via good examples. Mr Norman seems to get great pleasure from pointing out when some appliance doesn't meet one of his principles. Perhaps he's still bitter about a bad childhood experience with a badly designed toaster...
Although the content is revelant, it is not well organised. There should at least be a distinct section of the book dedicated to each principle. Instead, the author introduces some principles in point form, and others elsewhere in the text. This makes studying especially difficult, as you spend much of your time making sure you've found all the revelant principles.
For a book on design, I am dissapointed to see that it is more difficult to use than it should be. Mr Norman, as per your request on the last line of the book, here's a weed 0>-,'--
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on 1 May 2009
Norman provides very insightful views on why many everyday things are so infuriating to use. His examples range from inscrutable button-filled remote controls to shower faucets where you can't tell hot from cold, and he gives a simple yet effective set of guidelines on how to make things usable. He does all this with simple jargon-free language, only occasionally dipping into cognitive psychology, making the book easy to read for people who are more interested in design principles than psychology.

That said, the book is a bit dated, with references to the Mac Lisa, the NES, the Bell telephone and buildings and furniture designed in the 70's. It sorely needs an update, to show how the situation has improved: idiot-proof and color-coded connectors are standard in almost all electronics nowadays, auto-volt adaptors means we don't have to worry about burning electronics, plug-and-play and software wizards makes DIP switches and hacking at configuration files a thing of the past (unless you are a masochist or use Linux); and how they stay the same: different proprietary power connectors for cellphones (sometimes from different models of the same manufacturer, even with the same voltage!), ditto for memory cards, mobile phone and mp3 player user interfaces that seem to want to reinvent everything from scratch (and get it wrong) with every model released, the one button interface that behaves differently on how long you press it and scratch-filled screens (it's as if the designers never thought we'd put their _pocket-sized_ devices in our actual pockets!).

That said, it's still a necessary read for anyone designing an application UI or a webpage, or just about anyone else who has screamed at the designer of a shower faucet that you just can't turn when your hands are soapy.
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on 1 May 2014
I highly recommend reading this to avoid daft and lasting mistakes - the book has a damning phrase "he probably won an award for that". It talks about how to design things that are actually usable and useful, how "aesthetic" design mistakes can ruin the way stuff works, or confuse users, and at worst be dangerous. Told with examples and anecdotes, this book should be a must read for anyone involved in any product design aspect - be it hardware design, software design, development and engineering.
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on 26 September 2014
Great book that should be in every designers library, whether they are designing physical, digital or service based products. Donald Norman has a depth and breadth of experience that means irrespective of your previous knowledge it's impossible to come away from reading this without learning some invaluable tips and insights.
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on 6 April 2014
One of those fantastic books that makes you re-consider everything around you: Why do things look the way they do - and most importantly - why are some things easier to use than others?

Filled with great examples and more than a little bit of common sense, I think this is a must-read for everybody - designers and mere mortals alike.
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